Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Begin Your Wildlife Habitat This Fall

You can make your backyards a haven for birds, bats, butterflies and more with some easy ideas. Do one or do them all over time ... it's a beautiful thing to build a wildlife habitat. We find we no longer need any other entertainment. It's much more satisfying "chaising it" on the screened porch (lying back in the chaise and watching the show) or taking a stroll in the garden to find amazing things. What a lovely way to de-stress after a hard day's work and it's at the time when wildlife is active storing up for a good night's sleep. 

If you live in an apartment with a balcony or on acreage in the country, everyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. You won't find yourself in front of the TV much. We canceled our reception service and no longer care about television. Here's a few ideas from Birds and Blooms list with my added comments. You can find detailed information on building a Backyard Wildlife Habitat and for $15 even get it certified with National Wildlife Federation where you can order a sign to place in your yard. It's a great hobby and certainly a great way to begin or end each day.

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Two Female Goldfinches Eating Seeds
 View More Goldfinch Photos
1. Start With Plants - look for native plants that will do double duty by provides seeds or nuts, nectar and will do double duty if you plant them densely. The more densely you plant them the more protection you'll be providing. And don't be too neat and tidy with your garden. Leaves those seeded plants alone so the birds have time to eat the seeds. It's a delight to see the American Goldfinches eating seeds in our garden.
2. Give Extra Attention to Shrubs - If you've got a lawn with bushes spaced apart it doesn't provide much shelter for wildlife, but you can connect the shrubs to patches of wildflowers or more food-producing shrubs. This provides a living fence that can be used as a hiding place.

3. Leave The Dead Trees - Dead and dying trees called snags are very important, so if they're not a threat to the house, leave them alone. As they decay they lose branches and cavities form. Add to that the holes woodpeckers excavate and you could have all sorts of animals taking up residence. You also attract bug eating birds which means your other trees are more likely to avoid infestations.

If you have neighbors who cut a tree down, ask if you can saw some "sitting stools" out of the trunk. Place them around your yard where you'd want to have a view for watching wildlife. As they rot, the lizards love to use the for escape caves while they peer back out at me as if they're saying, "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

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Young Eastern Fence Lizard
View More Lizard Photos
4. Make A Brush Pile - Build them by lining up a series of parallel logs, and then layering smaller branches on top. This gives you a domelike structure filled with space that wildlife such as foxes or a mourning cloak butterfly will take advantage of. We've had rabbits and turtles in ours and birds nesting in them in Spring.

5. Pile Up The Rocks - Do the same thing with rocks stacking smaller stone on and around bigger ones to create mini-caves and crevices. Our lizards and skinks here love these!

6. Put Up A Roosting Box - You can buy or build these. A roosting box differs from a birdhouse in that the hole is at the bottom so the heat can rise and remain in the box. Along the sides you can use dowel rods for sleeping perches. You'll find that tree frogs even like these. You can also provide a place for winter rest in your birdhouses by cleaning them out in the Fall, spraying them with some essential oil blend to kill any lice or whatever, and then place some pine straw or crushed leaves in to keep them warm.

7. Support The Bat Population - Bats will help you control pests and do a lot of work for you. These little flying mammals are a delight to have around at sunset when they come out and begin their busy night of bug-eating. Study to find out what kind of bats inhabit your area. We built a bat house only to find that the Little Brown Bat is what we have in our area and they like to roost in trees. Being that our home is on a wooded acre, they didn't need supplemental housing.


Copyright and Reprint Information - All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins, but may be used with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNature InUs.com. Articles written by Donna L. Watkins can be reprinted with proper credit and link back to the website, TheNatureInUs.com.

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/15/14

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/15/14 
  by Donna L. Watkins  


"When your memories are greater than your dreams,
you are already beginning to die."  Kris Vallotton



Hello Dear Friends!

Sometimes we seem to know everything there is to know about a subject in the Bible (healing, provision, peace, forgiveness) and yet it's only facts we've logged away.  But we think that it's simply "not working."  If it's not been implanted in our hearts, we can't operate from those beliefs.  When we accept Jesus as Lord His spirit is downloaded into our spirit and we have access to everything that Jesus has promised ... BUT! our soul (mind, will and emotions) still have their own agenda/memories. They have to be "renewed" to line up with the spirit.  Romans 10:9-10 mentions the heart in relationship to belief:

View More Photos of Greenville, SC
Donna - Rock Quarry Gardens
Greenville, SC
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession (to profess, to praise, celebrate) is made unto salvation."

This implies there's more to getting saved than just speaking words or facts that we know in our heads.  Some people of the "faith movement" think that simply repeating the Word over and over will make it happen.  It's our belief of those words that make things happen, not simply chanting the words.  Saying it's so, when it isn't so, doesn't make it so.  We have to believe in our hearts.  We have to meditate on the Word and build that connection between God and ourselves so we can get what we "know" into our actual "knower" (heart) that rules our lives.

Remember the father with the epileptic-type son that the disciples couldn't heal? Mark 9:22-24 tells us that "oftentimes it hath cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him; but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!'” 

Notice Jesus didn't take responsibility for the healing. Instead He told the father that all things are possible to those who believe.  The father obviously mentally believed there was healing available or he wouldn't have traveled to see Jesus.

If we've suffered with health, relationship or finance issues for many years, it makes it harder to believe.  When we hear the Truth that will set us free, it takes time to renew our minds from what we've been taught.  After all most churches believe God can heal, but He chooses not to do so for some noble reason that should satisfy our thirsty souls to be able to live that life of abundance that Jesus came to give us.  Read more on this topic in my recent article:  The Battle of Belief and Unbelief

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The Good News - Squirrel With Case of Warbles
View More Squirrel Photos
On September 19, I took some photos of a squirrel that looked horribly diseased.  I haven't seen it for over a week, so I finally got up the courage to email The Wildlife Center for what I thought would be bad news.  Was I super relieved to find out that it was not cancer.  It was a case of warbles which are a type of bot fly.  They make the squirrel very uncomfortable and they kinda go crazy rolling on the ground or jumping in the air.  There is no threat to humans or pets from the larvae itself or the affected animals.  Most of the time squirrels that have warbles recover fairly quickly in a matter of days after they've departed.

I looked up some info and am passing it along in case you ever see something like this.  Apparently in summer when the fly is laying its eggs, the squirrel comes into contact with them.  Then when it grooms itself, the body heat and moisture causes the eggs to hatch and the larvae then penetrate the squirrel and migrate to a comfortable spot just below the skin where they cut a breathing hole and continue their development.

Once the larvae emerges in the Fall they drop to the ground to pupate until next summer.  The squirrel generally recovers without further incident.  In gray squirrels, the larvae are most abundant in the late summer and early fall.  In the Southeast United States [we're in Virginia], gray squirrels and other rodents, and rabbits, are commonly affected by Bot fly warbles.  Horses and cattle can be affected by them also. 

Speaking of squirrels and rolling around ... I took a short video of a squirrel having a grand old time in the backyard.  After knocking over one of our geese (not real), he was crazy about this one spot in the dirt and was really having a grand old time ... and then suddenly he stops as if he knows somebody is photographing him.  View Crazy Squirrel Video.

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Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker at Feeder
View More Red-headed Woodpecker Photos
View All Woodpecker Photos
We have some noisy Red-headed Woodpeckers in our backwoods and at our feeders.  It's the recent batch of fledglings.  They sure do love to chatter.  I guess they're excited about being out and about the world.  They've learned so much so quickly, each day being full of new adventures and life-survival skills.  Do you suppose they are like some teenagers?  Feeling like we know it all and are ready to head into life confident and free.  No more need for parental guidance and advice.  Do I sound a bit too familiar with this type of teenager?  Hmmm ....

Did you know that unlike other woodpeckers, they are good at catching insects in the air and hunt for them on the ground also.  They eat a lot of acorns and beech nuts of which they also cache away some for winter in tree crevices.  They also eat quite a lot of fruit and seeds.  They certainly love our black-oil sunflower seeds as you can tell from the photo.  Sadly, the species has declined sharply in the past 50 years because of habitat loss. 

Migration patterns are shifting for some birds and the Rufous Hummingbird is one of them.  Nesting in the Northwest, from Wyoming to southern Alaska, Rufous Hummingbirds have traditionally spent the winter in Mexico.  A few had always wandered east in Fall, but recent decades, they wouldn't have survived the winter there.  Now, gardeners all over the Gulf Coast and beyond have established Winter havens for hummingbirds, with flowers that bloom through the season and plenty of sugar-water feeders.

From east Texas to Florida and north at least to the Carolinas, hundreds of Rufous Hummingbirds now spend the entire Winter and some individuals may come back to the same gardens year after year.  Barn swallows were always known for flying to South America for Winter but always nesting in North America.  Now they are nesting down in South America also.  [Source:  Birds and Blooms Oct/Nov 2014]

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Juvenile Cardinal
View More Cardinal Photos
We've had some late Cardinal fledglings squealing around the property.  They sound like a squeaky wheel and go on and on all day long, increasing the volume when mom or pop fly into the bush they're hidden in with some food.

Since we had such a long Winter that had us using heat in June, many of the birds nested late here in Central Virginia this year ... and there were some who stayed on schedule but had a risky success rate.  I know the pair of wrens that were on the front porch had two babies that died.  I assume it was from the cold since they looked like normal babies and were snuggled together. 

I found a Bird Song Quiz online at Birds and Blooms YouTube site.  Couldn't resist taking it since it was only 2 minutes long.  I answered correctly on 3 of the 5 birds of the quiz.  Three of the birds have not been seen here.  While you're there here's a 1/2 minute video of a Titmouse on an Opossum's back pecking at something. 

Don't forget to clean out those birdhouses.  The birds can use them in winter as a warm place to stay ...especially if you put in some clean straw, hay or pine straw.  We use essential oils to disinfect them from any lice, etc.  If you have 100% pure essential oils almost any one of them would do the job since they are so hugely anti-microbial.  We sometimes get a special treat when we clean the birdhouses ... that of seeing a flying squirrel taking his daytime sleep since they are night animals.  Those big black eyes are so very cool!

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Flying Squirrel in Birdhouse
View More Flying Squirrel Photos
Flying squirrels make their nests in tree cavities and rely on acorns and nuts as their main food sources (thank goodness we have tons of acorns this year - last year was none here in the Eastern area of the U.S.). When acorns and other foods are plentiful, flying squirrels will cache them in locations throughout their home range for later eating in the winter. The down side .... occasionally, flying squirrels will prey upon insects, bird eggs and carrion.

Be sure to check out the post, Begin Your Wildlife Habitat This Fall.  You can make your backyard a haven for birds, bats, butterflies and more with some easy ideas.  Do one or do them all over time ... it's a beautiful thing to build a wildlife habitat.  We find we no longer need any other entertainment.  It's much more satisfying "chaising it" on the screened porch (lying back in the chaise and watching the show) or taking a stroll in the garden to find amazing things.  What a great way to de-stress after work or school.

Dr. Jauhar, author of the book, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician, was recently described as "a compelling writer and an astute critic of the wasteful, mercenary, cronyistic and often corrupt practice of medicine today."

Look Inside the Book
The New York Times book reviewer notes say, "He is brutally honest, not just about his own shortcomings, but about those of colleagues, bosses and institutions. There is the cardiologist who pressures him to perform expensive, unneeded diagnostic tests; the hospital, which wants him to see patients for ever-shorter sessions; the pharmaceutical company that pays him on the side to give 'lectures' but will let him use only its slides and data."

Indeed, such complaints have been well documented before. Too much cancer screening, too many heart tests, too many cesarean sections—mounting evidence suggests that Americans are basically being over-treated to death. 

There are many reasons for this, including the fact that doctors' hands are tied by insurance companies when it comes to treatment decisions. Maybe the root of the problem goes back to the fact that doctors enter the field wanting to truly help people get well, but find that the system works against disease resolution at every turn.

Most all fail to appreciate the massive collusion between multinational corporations, peer reviewed journals, professional advisory committees, and federal regulatory agencies that decimate any hope of objective honest recommendations. Medicine has become a for-profit business, and this automatically promotes waste and less-than-optimal treatment options.


Donna
Shenandoah Caverns
Quicksburg, VA
Enjoy the outdoors while you still can ... it's a glorious time to glorify the Lord in a forest, on an empty beach, from a mountain top, or in your backyard.  He loves to talk with you in those still moments and He delights in having time with you!

Love, Hugs, and Many Blessings,

Donna



P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?

Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:  
http://www.thenatureinus.com/2014/10/the-nature-in-us-newsletter-101514.html

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Posts Since Last Newsletter

The Battle of Belief and Unbelief  (DLW)

Pets: What Is That Foul Smell?

Leaf Litter Is a Beneficial Windfall

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/1/14  (DLW)

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What It Means To Believe

Children's Cereals: Sugar by the Pound

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Cynophobia – The Fear of Dogs

Renovate Your Mind

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Bad Choices Lead to Toxic Thinking
 
Duckweed - There Are Some Benefits
 
The Nature In Us Newsletter - 9/1/14 (DLW)

Do You Really Trust God? (DLW)

Monarch Waystation in Mall

Jogging With Your Dog (Video)

Overcoming Trouble

Slugs - Give Them a Chance to Steal Your Heart

Can We Control Emotions and Feelings?

Lyme Disease - An Emerging Pet Problem

Seeing The Word Alive In Me  (DLW)

Living Near Trees Reduces Stress

Composting Cardboard

Baffling Behaviors of Pets

God Wants YOU Well


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© All photos unless otherwise noted are the property of Donna L. Watkins and cannot be displayed without approval. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flint River Ranch's 22nd Anniversary

Remember the song - "I was country before country was cool"? 

Along the same line, Flint River Ranch Pet Foods was green before green was cool.
As they celebrated this Columbus Day; which marked our 22nd year of business as Flint River Ranch, it is nice to reflect upon how they "got it right" from the very beginning!

From the very first day of production, strict attention has been paid to the selection of meat proteins and other ingredients used in their formulas. They decided from the beginning to only use US-sourced ingredients whenever possible, and have never purchased from Chinese manufactures.

Source certification and dedicated in-house testing made sure that selected ingredients were free from chemicals, pesticides and toxic molds. Samples from each production run are maintained for six months for regulatory inspection.

Just as important, gas fumes from the ovens are filtered and cleaned before releasing into the atmosphere. All paper products, cartons and other waste from manufacturing are fully recycled.

Not only was this important for Flint River Ranch, but hope it helps with customer assurance that our products are manufactured in California; one of the states with strong environmental requirements. We, as distributors of this natural pet food, take pride that this dedication to their quality and production continues, and will into the future.

Thank you to our extended Flint River Ranch family of customers! We are so pleased you continue to put your trust and loyalty with Flint River Ranch at HealthyPetCorner.com.


Healthy Pet Corner Flint River Ranch Pet Foods

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Kibble - Pet Treats and Bones
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Battle of Belief and Unbelief

by Donna L. Watkins

Sometimes we seem to know everything there is to know about a subject in the Bible (healing, provision, peace, forgiveness) and yet it's only knowledge in our minds, facts we've logged away. If it's not been implanted in our hearts, we cannot operate from those beliefs. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23:
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (KJV)
"Above all else guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it." (NIV)
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (NLT)

The heart is where our spirit and soul rest and as we know when we accept Jesus as Lord His spirit is downloaded into our spirit and we have access to everything that Jesus has promised ... BUT! our soul (mind, will and emotions) still have their own agenda/memories. They have to be "renewed" to line up with the spirit. We were made to live out of our spirits and to communicate with God from our spirits, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Romans 10:9-10 mentions the heart in relationship to belief:
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession (to profess, to praise, celebrate) is made unto salvation."

This implies there's more to getting saved than just speaking words or facts that we know in our heads. The "faith movement" has been under attack for a long time with people speaking words from the Bible thinking that the more they say it the sooner it will come to pass. Saying it's so, when it isn't so, doesn't make it so. We have to believe in our hearts. That's where meditating on the Word comes in. We do that to renew our minds and get what we "know" into our actual "knower" (heart) that rules our lives.

Remember the father with the epileptic-type son that the disciples couldn't heal? Mark 9:22-24 tells us that "oftentimes it hath cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him; but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said unto him, 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.' And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!'”

Notice Jesus didn't take responsibility for the healing. Instead He told the father that all things are possible to those who believe. The father obviously mentally believed or he wouldn't have traveled to get his son to Jesus.

He may have believed greatly in his heart as he left to see Jesus and then found that He was gone and not available, but the disciples had already been sent out on their journey and reported back to Jesus and there was no mention of nobody being healed. Yet they saw this writhing, foaming and gruesome son and when they prayed, he wasn't healed.

That must've left the father a bit less faith-filled and it certainly was a visual image of unbelief for his heart, but Jesus arrived and he still begged him with tears for help. Jesus was willing ... the father just needed to believe. I love this story because the father said in tears, "I believe, Lord help my unbelief." All the years of seeing his son like this made it hard to believe.

All the years we suffer with health, relationship or finance issues makes it hard to believe. So we have the belief we've managed to move into our heart (spirit) ... and we have the unbelief that's still there in our minds (soul) doubting. I love the way this story shows we can even pray to Jesus for help in believing. Paul said in Galatians 2:20 that "I live by the faith of the Son of God."

In Acts 3:16 when Peter responded to the crippled beggar at a temple gate, he said to the people, "It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him." We have all been given the measure of faith by God (Romans 12:3 KJV), so we don't have to rely on our own. We don't need more faith. Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to move a mountain. We just have to get what we know into our "knower" that rules our life (our heart).

And when we know that we've got doubt and unbelief mixed in, we can cry out to Jesus to help our unbelief. In Jeremiah 29:13 God tells us, "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." God is always willing to help us when we truly seek Him. I have ask myself this question many times when I go to bed: "If somebody were to look at a video of my activities this day, what would they say was the priority in my life?"

If we have no time to meditate on the Word and just sit before the Lord to listen to what He has to tell us ... we won't hear the answer. And it may not be that you will hear the answer during that time ... but that time spent with God will make your heart more open to His voice ... then as you go about your day with your necessary tasks of life, the answer will just jump out at you!

God's not going to zap us into shape. He speaks to us through His spirit within us and we respond with obedience. If you believe that you can't hear the Lord speaking to you, then you've not been spending enough time with Jesus to know His voice. But God is always there for you ... and loves you so much, but will not interfere with the freewill He gave us.

We have to desire something so much that all else of life doesn't matter. We can work and worry at the same time ... so we can work and meditate at the same time. Stick a Scripture promise in your mind that fits what you need and keep worry out of your life. Spend time with the Lord daily just sitting before Him. Picture yourself at His throne adoring and praising Him.

If the whole day has gone by and you've not had intimate time with Him ... you can lose some sleep to do so. After all, haven't you lost sleep to see a good movie? You can lose a bit of sleep to spend time with the God who created the Universe and you.


Pets: What Is That Foul Smell?

by Dr. Jane Bicks

If you’ve ever noticed a foul odor wafting from your pet’s hind end, there's a chance that anal sacs may be the source of the problem.

As any pet parent will tell you, nothing smells as uniquely terrible as the material emitted from these glands.

Read Dr. Jane’s post now

Leaf Litter Is a Beneficial Windfall


Photo © Donna L. Watkins
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Lizard Blends Into Surrounding Leaves
While Searching for Bugs
by Vera Strader

Leaf litter is truly an environmental windfall. Fallen leaves act as a wildlife boon enriching soil, providing a down-like comforter for small critters, and according to one estimate, benefiting at least 122 bird species nationwide.

Mother Nature does not remove fallen leaves-and for good reason. Leaf litter provides food and shelter for earthworms, pill bugs, millipedes and a multitude of smaller life such as eggs and larvae of insects and spiders of many kinds.

These creatures are all essential components of the food web providing sustenance to toads, frogs, lizards, and countless other animals.  Read Vera's entire article.



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/1/14

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 10/1/14 
  by Donna L. Watkins  



Hello Dear Friends!

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North Gate From Within Fort Monroe
Continuing on with photos from our overnight getaway Labor Day weekend, the next stop was Fort Monroe which was nice since I could pretty much stay in the car and take pictures or get out for a few minutes and come back to the air conditioning.  Even when it was cloudy it was oppressively hot.  Lots to see at Fort Monroe and very interesting for those with historical interest in the Civil War also.  There are 259 buildings and structures at Fort Monroe, 170 of which are historic.

There are 565 acres with nearly 200 acres of natural resources, including 8 miles of waterfront, 3.2 miles of beaches on the Chesapeake Bay, 110 acres of submerged lands and 85 acres of wetlands.  View Fort Monroe Photo Album.

The Casemate Museum was by far the most interesting place (and air-conditioned).  It was incredible all that they had in that building.  Very well done and super informative on all of the many uses Fort Monroe had over the years.  View Casemate Museum Photo Album.

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Black Gum Tree with Fruit for Wildlife
I was picking up acorns to put on trays in the garage so towards the end of winter we can put them out for the wildlife when things are sparse. If we leave them on the ground they just bear roots, the nut rots and we have to dig out small oak trees every few years. Last year we didn't have any acorns at all. It happened in many places here in the East. Some years are better than others, but last year was horrible and it was a year of a very frigid winter here in Virginia and elsewhere.

While doing that I noticed a tree with lots of berries on it.  Looked like one of our Black Gum trees but I'd never seen it with fruit. They bloom around May-June but the flowers are too tiny to notice, yet very attractive to pollinators as a nectar source.If you're looking for a great tree for your wildlife habitat landscaping ... this one is a keeper.

The birds attracted are many.  From a list that I found, we have 15 of them as regular visitors (some migrating through each year) and 6 that we've not seen.  Even mammals enjoy the benefits of these trees:  squirrels, small rodents, gray foxes, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, black bears, and white-tailed deer.

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Juvenile Eastern Towhee - First I've Ever Seen
View More Towhee Photos
Continuing on with new things to see ... the two holly trees (we thought they were bushes when we planted them) at the breakfast area window are busy spots for the birds.  The deck is on the other side of the railing which includes a birdbath and they love to take their bath and then preen and clean while they're hiding in the bushes.  So there's always a lot of activity going on in those "bushes." 

One day I saw something that didn't look familiar so I grabbed the camera and then went to look.  The bird was hopping from here to there in the denseness of the branches but I finally got a few shots to determine what it was.  I was really excited to realize that it was a Juvenile Eastern Towhee.

Sadly, these birds are common victims of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird that lays eggs in Towhee nests and then leaves the baby birds to be raised buy the Towhees.  Towhees don't seem to have the ability, as some other birds, to recognize or remove the Cowbird's egg.  This could be because the female Cowbird removes the Towhee egg when laying their own, making the switch harder to notice.

This bird is actually part of the sparrow family although they are certainly twice the size of sparrows.  They tend to be solitary, and they use a number of threat displays to tell other towhees they’re not welcome. We've never seen more than one couple here. Studies show that male Towhees usually defend territories many times larger than needed for their food supply.

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Monarch Butterfly Fresh From the Chrysalis
View More Monarch Photos
Those of you who follow monarchs closely are aware that the monarch population has been declining for the last 10 years with significant drops in the population each of the last three years. The number of trees and total area occupied by monarchs in the oyamel fir forests in Mexico was at an all time low last winter - a mere 0.67 hectares. This decline has given rise to a great deal of concern about the future of the monarch migration.  Programs such as the Monarch Waystation, Bring Back the Monarchs, and Milkweed Market programs. These programs are growing but they need to become much, much larger to sustain the monarch migration. Consider making a difference by participating in one of them. 

We have a Certified Monarch Waystation, but our milkweed plants have not been spreading, so this year, we are going to participate in the Milkweed Market Program since we have seed pods of one of the milkweed species needed in Virginia.  Schools and non-profits can get milkweed seeds free.  More info on that here.

There will be a modest increase in the number of monarchs in the migration and at the overwintering sites this winter. All of the factors Chip Taylor, Monarch Watch's Director, researched indicate that there will be more monarchs migrating this fall and at the overwintering locations by mid-December when the colonies are measured. All in all things are looking up for monarchs this year.  Reports from throughout the breeding range indicate an increase in monarch numbers.

On August 26th 2014, The Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, The Xerces Society, and Dr. Lincoln Brower submitted a petition to the Secretary of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service requesting that the monarch butterfly be granted threatened status under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.  Read this blog post for more information on that.

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Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)
on Obedience Plant
View More Spider Photos
A green pest control company in Canada contacted me to promote an article as PR for spiders. I get too many folks contacting me to add an article to the blog, but I'm a sucker for bugs since I overcame my fear many years back after moving to the woods, so here goes ... A fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias among people, and largely irrational given that we are much more likely to kill them than they are to kill us.  Check out these spider facts then take the challenge and read the article.

- There are over 40,000 known species in the world and only a dozen or so which are lethal to humans
- Just one spider in your house will mean around 2,000 fewer bugs each year
- They keep the garden healthy by feeding on a variety of pests that attack flowers and vegetables
- Spiders will generally limit their own numbers and control their own population

If you'd like some steps to overcome your fear of spiders, check out this article at WikiHow.  I wrote an article, Freedom From Fear, quite a few years back and talked about getting over the bug phobia.

My sweet friend and spiritual sister, Elva, in Texas sent me this photo of a double rainbow she took in front of her house.  Amazing!  I'd never seen a double rainbow, so I Googled to find some information.  According to AccuWeather.com meteorologists:  a ray of sunlight passes through a raindrop, reflecting off the back of the drop at varying angles.  Along with this reflection is refraction of light that causes a spectrum of colors.  Certain angles and "bending" reflect light better for refraction to occur, and the amount of light refraction corresponds to wavelength and color. 

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Double Rainbow
While a primary rainbow is visible when light is reflected once off the back of a raindrop, a secondary and usually dimmer rainbow is spotted when light is reflected twice in a more complicated pattern.  The colors of the second rainbow are inverted, with blue on the outside and red moved to the inside.

The second bow appears dimmer or cloudier because much more light is released from two reflections, and both bows cover a larger portion of the sky.  Many rain droplets of all different sizes, not just one, are responsible for this phenomena. Perhaps billions of water droplets and sunlight reflections make a rainbow visible to the human eye.  The best time to see a rainbow is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. When the sun is in a lower position, a higher bow can be seen.

My instant thought was double blessings and a double reminder of God's promises to us since the rainbow was a sign of His promise in Genesis.  Since I have another sweet friend in Massachusetts whose name is Rainbow, I sent it along to her as a reminder that God is watching over her and still delights in confirming His promises ... as He does for all of us.

One of the things I look forward to each year is getting to pick Concord grapes over in the Shenandoah Valley.  I'll take any excuse to drive over the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy that area.  It reminds me of the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania.  I grew up in a neighboring county.  The Wenger Grape Farm is between Waynesboro and Stuarts Draft, an area that has a large concentration of Mennonite families. Paul L. Wenger, planted the first vineyard in 1938. Since that time the acreage of grapes has expanded to 35 acres.

I had spent 5-1/2 hours on other errands and it was a bit warm, so by the time I got to the vineyard, I decided to buy the grapes already picked. Only $.10 more a pound which made them $1.20 per pound.  What a deal.  The skin is a deep dark color and the flavor is amazing!  They don't keep very long so I like to freeze some and enjoy them as little pop-in-your-mouth icicles.  They taste so rich and juicy and the skin is filled with antioxidants.

At the top of the list of antioxidant research is resveratrol (a phytonutrient present mostly in grape skins, but also in grape seeds and grape flesh). Resveratrol has recently been shown to increase expression of three genes all related to longevity.  I take resveratrol daily in an herbal formula (Super ORAC) that includes other potent antioxidants, but I love to eat the real thing that isn't hybridized for convenience and still contains all the natural nutrients God put it. It's called "heirloom seeds."

Source:  www.StuffJesusNeverSaid.com
Too often we just read through the Bible and don't really focus on anything.  When something seems to hit your heart while you're reading the Bible, STOP reading further. Take the time to stick with that verse.  God wants to show you something.  Reading the Bible isn't supposed to be something we have to do, but something we desire to be taught by the Lord.  God Word is alive and active like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), so there's a lot in every Word He spoke.

"Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."  Ephesians 3:20

Notice the last portion of the verse.  Many times only the first part is quoted, but the manifestation of that is 'according to the power that works in us'.  When we accepted Jesus as Lord, all that He did and all that He is was placed inside of us in our spirits, but we have to believe it to bring it out where we can see it.  Science is now discovering that our thoughts and beliefs are what rule our lives.  Whatever we think on becomes the life we live.  Puts a lot of responsibility on us, but how exciting that we can change our lives by changing our thoughts and what we speak. 

You don't magically have life turn around when you get saved.  It's how much you put into the relationship that makes things change.  I have a box with 52 Scripture cards in it (52 Weeks to a Positive Life) and on the back Norman Vincent Peale adds an encouraging word.  The comments on the verse above are powerful, but it takes our active participation and belief to have things manifest into the physical realm from the spiritual.

"Today, remind yourself that nothing is too good to be true.  Your great hopes can be realized.  Your most wonderful dreams can come true. All that you really need, you can have.  An incredible goodness is operating on your behalf.  If you are living a paltry life, resolve to stop it today.  Expect great things to happen.  Confidently receive God's abundant blessings.  Do not think lack.  Instead think prosperity, abundance, the best of everything.  God wants to give to you, His child, every good thing. Don't hinder His generosity."  Norman Vincent Peale

The belief that's being talked about is in our hearts, not our heads.  We can believe facts and information, but if our heart has believed something else, or has a different view of who God is, then it will take time to renew our minds so it can become our heart's belief.

Unconditional love is foreign to us.  As a child we're rewarded for being "good" and disciplined for being "bad."  It continues with school, sports, where we work, and even relationships are based on "what's in it for me?"  All of that programming leaves us with a heart belief that we have to do something to earn God's love or blessings.  It's already been done with Christ.  How could man ever do anything to add to Christ's sacrifice?  Jesus said "It is finished."  You can't add anything to it.  He died to give you .... life abundantly.

Donna on Sandstone Quarry Tour
If you haven't read and/or watched the videos on Renovate Your Mind that was posted last month, check it out and begin your journey to God's abundant life.

Take some of these beautiful Autumn days and spend them with Jesus in a forest, on the beach, by the lake ... He loves to walk and talk with you and delights in having time with you.

Have a blessed time with the Lord THIS week.

Donna



P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:  
http://www.thenatureinus.com/2014/10/the-nature-in-us-newsletter-10114.html

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written by Donna

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